At first glance, Joey Logano had a great day in Saturday’s SpongeBob SquarePants 400 at Kansas Speedway.
The Daytona 500 champion started from the pole for the fourth time this year and led the first 29 laps. At night’s end, he had recorded a track-record 147 green-flag passes on the way to a fifth-place finish for his sixth top-five through 11 races.
In between those points, it could have been a lot better.
“Passing all those cars was fun but the rest of it we just did a terrible job of executing this race,” Logano said afterward. “We made mistake after mistake.”
Those mistakes came not on the track, but on pit road. The Team Penske driver found himself sent to the back of the field twice, all after a delay of 2 hours and 16 minutes because of rain.
Logano’s first infraction came on Lap 107, but it wasn’t his fault. The team was penalized after the gas man was caught over the wall too soon without his gas can. NASCAR allows a team’s gas man to be over the wall as long as they have a gas can. Logano’s gas man did not.
Then with 81 laps to go, Logano entered pit road before it had opened during a caution.
“(Execution) is usually our strong point,” Logano told Fox Sports 1. “I didn’t even think about looking, just assumed it was open.”
But Logano had a great car. By Lap 201, Logano was 10th. He drove from there to fifth after the final restart with six laps to go. The lowest Logano ever found himself was 36th, but his average running position over the race’s 267 laps was ninth.
“We had a fast race car and that is what saved us,” Logano said. “Execution was not very good tonight and we all just have to raise our game a little bit and understand why we made mistakes and clean it up going forward.”
With is ability to recover from mistakes Logano will enter the All-Star break fourth in the Sprint Cup point standings, 62 points behind leader Kevin Harvick.